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WestminsterPlaceShapers has responded to the Government consultation on proposals to introduce ceilings on increases to rents for social and affordable homes in 2023/24.

The response, submitted on Wednesday 12 October, draws on evidence from members around the country.

The full response has been circulated to members. The key points are

1. Boards, in consultation with tenants, who can properly scrutinise the demands on their organisation within the confines of long-term government policy, is the most effective and accountable way of making rent decisions. We do not agree with Government intervening by setting a new limit on an already agreed rent settlement.

2. The vast majority of PlaceShapers had no intention of charging CPI+1. Decisions on rents are balanced between short term affordability with long term necessary investment.

3. Community-based housing associations are key to tackling the cost-of-living crisis in communities, by providing a range of targeted support to those on the lowest incomes.

4. Members face increasing costs – currently running higher the CPI – which are already affecting plans for investment in homes, net zero work, building safety and community services.

5. If a ceiling is imposed, there must be:
a. A degree of flexibility to apply exemptions to services which would be unviable, such as supported housing.
b. A measure which allows housing providers to catch up on lost incomes so long-term investment and development are not reduced

Matthew Walker, chair of PlaceShapers, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is the number one issue for members who are providing extensive and wide-ranging support despite facing increasing cost press themselves.

“We value the chance to respond to the Government’s consultation. Based on evidence from members, rent setting is best done by boards who can properly scrutinise the demands placed on their organisation within the confines of long-term Government policy. If given that autonomy this year, we have no doubt that each of our members would have set a rent which strikes the right balance between long term sustainability, quality of service and affordability for tenants.”